Idaho State Journal
March 31, 2016
The biggest threat to America’s security isn’t Islamic terrorists or even Iran developing a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo. It’s the runaway national debt.
“It’s something we must deal with,” Crapo said about the $19 trillion national debt as he addressed the Pocatello Rotary on Thursday. “I believe the national debt is the greatest threat facing America today.”
Crapo said the lack of real plans to curb the debt growth is one of the reasons he has not backed any of the three remaining candidates for the Republican nomination as president — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
The other reason Crapo said he has held up any endorsement is he wants to choose someone who can win the general election in November.
“I believe this will be a close race for the presidency,” Crapo said.
Crapo, who was a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform back in 2010, said the bipartisan commission made recommendations to reverse deficit spending and get the U.S. back on solid financial standing. The so-called Simpson-Bowles commission, which was created by President Barack Obama to tackle the nation’s budget woes, recommended overhaul of the tax code to enhance revenue and cuts in spending.
It was named after co-chairs Alan Simpson, R-Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, D-North Carolina.
Unfortunately, the commission’s recommendations were shelved, and Crapo said the conditions have just become worse over the past six years.
Crapo said that although annual deficit spending has been reduced significantly — between 50 and 70 percent — over the past six years, the overall national debt continues to climb about $500 billion each year.
Just the interest on the national debt of the U.S. costs $300 billion each year, according to Crapo.
“Just the interest on the debt will exceed the entire national defense budget in six years,” Crapo told Rotarians.
Another serious threat to the nation is the unbridled growth of federal regulations and controls, according to Idaho’s junior senator who is in his 18th year in the U.S. Senate.
Crapo said the cost of complying with federal regulations costs U.S. businesses about $700 million to $800 million each day. He also had harsh words for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created in 2010 in response to the collapse on Wall Street. The bureau’s jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, payday lenders, mortgage companies and other financial services in the U.S., including credit card companies.
Crapo said the bureau is creating massive databases to track consumer credit card use, and this poses a threat to individual liberty.
“The potential for abuse is great,” Crapo said.
During a question and answer segment of Thursday’s Rotary luncheon, Sen. Crapo addressed questions about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and the popularity of Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Crapo defended the Republican stance to not give Garland a hearing in the U.S. Senate because President Obama is a lame duck. Crapo said he couldn’t support Judge Garland even if Obama wasn’t in his final year of office because he considers Garland’s history regarding the Second Amendment and small businesses unacceptable.
Crapo provided no specifics on Garland’s objectionable rulings as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit but said the National Federation of Independent Business was opposed to his record.
As far as the political success of Trump and Sanders, Crapo said it is propelled by both anger and fear.
“I believe there is a very serious fear in the hearts of many Americans,” Crapo said. “It’s a fear that the American dream is less achievable.”
Crapo said he predicts that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, but the Republican decision will come from a contested national convention this summer with several rounds of voting among delegates.
“It could get very fluid,” Crapo said, adding he doubts the winner will be someone other than Trump, Cruz or Kasich. “Deep divisions in the Republican Party will need to be healed.”